Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Movie "Boy I AM"

I went to see the screening of “Boy I Am” Saturday night in Downtown Riverside at the Blood Orange Infoshop.

"Boy I Am" was well worth seeing. It is a pretty good documentary about transition from the FtM side of things. It points out some of the things we trans-women don't have in common with trans-men. The primary example is the split between trans-men and the butch lesbian crowd (women who clearly identify as women but present as very masculine). The film makes it clear that for trans-men there is a sense of breaking out of a closed community or private social club and this is something I don't think we trans-women have anything comparable to, at least not on a large scale as presented in the flick.

All of us gals are seen as traitors to the manly side of things by some genetic men (including some of the gays) and face ridicule and discrimination as a result, but since genetic men aren't as militantly organized as the butch gals we don't generally have the same kind of community or social-clubish break-away issues. Many, or dare I say most, of us simply knew that we had to break away from the masculine and just did, no lingering guilt feelings or feelings of having betrayed other men - at least this what I have seen to be common. We know we aren't men and that, simply, is that. Even though I think of myself as two-spirit and as still having some male attributes I still had to make a complete break with presenting my gender with any hint of maleness and therefore there was no stigma in my mind of having betrayed, say, a tight-knit society of gay men with clearly fem presentation. That kind of thinking never entered my mind as I struggled with coming out back in those turbulent days.

What I do see as a common problem for trans people as a whole, though this was not mentioned in the movie (and probably didn’t enter into the mind of the filmmaker), is that we trans-folks all still tend to focus on our way as the right way and others that do things different are often labeled as wrong. We then fall into the trap of fragmenting along these lines of difference. We tend to focus on them rather than finding our common strengths and forging a true community based on those. The trans-men isolate from the trans women as we gals do from the trans-men - it is a pretty clear break out here in the Inland Empire (the Riverside/San Bernardino/Redlands area of So. California) anyway and this seemed painfully obvious at this screening. I was the only trans-woman present, but there were many trans-men and lesbians. Go figure, it was all about the bois - so why should the ladies show an interest, right? (And therein lays my point). And then we all sub divide over every other little thing, walking right past opportunities left and right to make strides in equal rights and other important issues we commonly gripe about. Though there are some rare exceptions to this, I see this as the primary thing that undermines our ability to do anything positive as a community or to even begin to see ourselves as members of a community outside of some very exclusive little groups. Even though a lot of trans-folks were at the forefront at Stonewall we still haven't learned to set aside our differences and organize like the G's and L's have done since that fateful day in a New York bar.

As always I urge us all to set aside our differences and work together to make the world a better and safer place for all humans. There are always plenty of things to get involved in right in our own neighborhoods.

If you happen to be in the Riverside Area on Sunday the 13th of March, come visit First Congregational Church’s second forum on bullying – we will have representatives from several GSAs (Gay Straight Alliance), UCR’s LGBT Center and Riverside Police Dept. to answer questions on the topic of bullying and hate crimes. These forums are held after our morning Worship service at 11:30 AM (though all are welcome in the service too – that starts at 10 AM). This past Sunday we screened the film “Bullied”, an excellent documentary from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

OK, I have said enough for one sitting, especially after being quiet for so long.

Hugs and Blessings,